The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
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Busy final session for Student Senate

The last meeting of Student Senate proved to be an important one for some senators whose resolutions did not pass despite their last-stitch efforts to drum up Senate support.

President Liz Healy responded to some senators’ frustrations, saying important legislation in need of revisions should not have been presented at the last meeting.

The first resolution to stir up lengthy discussion and debate sought to establish an open meetings requirement for all Senate meetings.

Authoring Sen. David Mingus answered questions about the differences between what constitutes a closed versus an open meeting as well as emergency meetings. As the questions continued Mingus clarified his intent for the resolution: “We’re not trying to make it more difficult for us [Senate] but more transparent for the public,” he said.

Only when there is discussion to take official action must an agenda be available to the public along with minutes.

“You wave the right once you take the oath of office,” Sen. Ben Hatch said, defending the resolution’s intent to provide a written statement of Senate’s current policy.

Healy presented the committee’s negative recommendation, saying the committee didn’t disagree with the intent of the resolution but thinks it “takes things too far, complicates things,” and “it’s unnecessary and is counterproductive.”

Currently, there is no written statement that says all Student Senate meetings are open to the public.

Healy said there is no reason to have it in writing because it’s always been Student Senate’s policy. Sen. James Longhofer along with 17 other senators agreed.

Senators did not pass the resolution in an 18 to 7 vote. Secretary Katherine Tullos conducted an individual oral vote for each senator.

Senators then passed a resolution “denouncing the genocide in Darfur and encouraging the United Nations and the world to intervene” without debate.

A second, heavily debated resolution asked for funding from the Chartered Organizations Fund and a separate Graduate Senate Fund and the creation of a Graduate Finance Committee to encourage more graduate student organizations to seek Senate resources.

Legislative author Sen. Kimberly Sellers proposed15 percent of graduate student fees go into the Graduate Senate Fund. (Usually 35 percent of graduate fees go into the Senate fund.)

“This resolution makes it easier for grad students to access the funds they need,”Sen. Hilary Lefko said.

The nondiscrimination clause in the Student Senate policies and procedures prohibits gender-based groups from becoming chartered organizations and thus receiving funds through that process.

The executive committee recommended senators not pass the resolution.

“We feel the best way to approach this is to earmark an amount of funds for graduate programs,” instead of creating a Graduate Student Fund along with its own committee, Healy said.

“I’m open to suggestions and changes,” Sellers pleaded in her final statement before debate.

Then debate began.

“All student groups, graduate and non-graduate, must go through the same process to obtain money from Senate Fund,” Sen. Jonathan Lane said. “I can’t see why we need to make a graduate fund just so we can make it easier for them.”

A 14 to 9 vote closed Senate debate on the resolution.

“I’m pretty disappointed that we don’t want to further debate this. Please think about this and how this could benefit the school. By benefiting one corner of the university we’re benefiting the entire school, and that’s what we’re here for,” Sellers said in her closing speech.

The resolution flopped in an unfavorable 5 to 16 vote.

Other Old Business:

– Senate passed a resolution to amend the Student Senate bylaws regarding the Summer Executive Committee.

– Senate passed a resolution encouraging that the SMU administration demonstrates SMU’s commitment to environmental stewardship procurement/development policy.

– Senate passed a resolution to amend the Student Senate bylaws.

– Senate passed a resolution recognizing the tremendous accomplishments of Meadows Dean Carole Brandt.

Celebration and tradition themed the first half of Student Senate, as Healy gave out Student of the Year awards and passed on student body president “hand-me-downs” to incoming President Taylor Russ.

Healy presented Senate of the Year awards throughout the first half of the meeting, honoring the following community members:

Organization of the year, S.P.A.R.C.; Faculty/Staff of the year, Program Council advisor Traci Ray; Student of the year, Ad Director Lisa McCurley; Senator of the year, African-American Sen. Lee Hinga; Chair of the year, Environment Chair Joseph Grinnell.

During Healy’s executive report, she presented Dedman College Dean Jasper Neel with a plaque of appreciation on behalf of Student Senate and the campus community.

“Being at this university is a blessing I never would have expected, so thank you very much,” he said.

Dean Neel’s tenure as dean ends at the end of the school year. He will continue to teach in the English department.

During Speaker’s Podium, a representative from SMU Rides shared data about the program’s progress this school year. The service, which is run in conjunction with the SMU Police Department, is available for students who are in need of a safe ride to and from a place on campus after dark. This year, student drivers escorted provided 195 rides and spent a total of $2,933, according to a preliminary report from March 9. Its last day of operation for the school year is April 29.

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